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BREEDERS’ CUP NOTES

Edited Breeders’ Cup Release — Culled from combined sources from members of the Breeders’ Cup Notes Team, these reactions were taken from major players on Sunday morning:

LONGINES BREEDERS’ CUP TURF: Horse: War Like Goddess

Trainer: Bill Mott

Morning Activity: Worked 4f in 49 ⅘ with exercise rider Brittany Troxtell in the saddle.

Planned Activity: Scheduled to walk the shedrow TBA.

The Quote: “It was beautiful. Poetry in motion. She works on the dirt and she works in :49 or :50; that’s all we want. You could see the rider was just letting her do it. She gets a lot out of working on the dirt, conditioning wise. She is fit enough.” – Bill Mott

Closer look: As a little girl, Brittany Troxtell liked horses. As a young woman, she loves them. Especially the ones she gets on as an exercise rider at the power-packed barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Troxtell had herself a busy Sunday morning as she was part of the Mott team fine tuning his all-star lineup as the Breeders’ Cup looms. She worked Casa Creed Sunday, who will run in the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). She has been aboard Elite Power, who is gunning for his second straight win in the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

Troxtell saved the best for last as she climbed aboard War Like Goddess for her final work before the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). 

“I am honored to ride any horse in the barn,” Troxtell said with a smile. “I definitely have my favorites with War Like Goddess being one of them.”

The daughter of turf whiz English Channel will be attempting to beat the boys in the Turf, a 1 1/2- mile race spiced up with several strong international foes. War Like Goddess has beaten males before, including the past two editions of the prestigious Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1) in New York.

The Breeders’ Cup has eluded her. She was third in the Turf last year and third in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) in 2021.

“It would mean so much to me if she could win,” Troxtell. 22, said. “That is because she is the biggest, most accomplished horse I have ridden on a consistent basis. It would mean a lot to the whole team, not just me.”

Troxtell grew up in Florida and said she was always fascinated with the four-legged thoroughbred creatures. At the age of 10, a Christmas present from her mother consisted of riding lessons. Young Brittany was hooked.

“Once I got those lessons, you could not get me away from it,” she said. “I would always count down the days when I could get to do something with the horses.”

Her love for the horse did not wane as she grew older. When she became aware that she might be able to make a living riding horses, her interest only grew.

When an opening came at Mott’s barn, she took a chance. And here she is.

“She has been a great employee,” Mott said. “She learned well and has done a great job for us.”

Troxtell’s biggest break came this past summer when Mott handed her the reins belonging to War Like Goddess. She has exercised her as well as worked her.

Mott trusts her.

“Loyalty is everything,” Mott said. “That is what it is all about. You get people on the same team and they all want the end goal to be the same for the horses. It’s not a me, me, me thing. She has obviously progressed well to be out there on those horses. She has a good disposition, has good feedback with the horses and she loves the horses. Plus, she is a good rider. That is what it’s all about.”

There is excitement as the Breeders’ Cup approaches but also some sadness. The careers of horses like Cody’s Wish and Elite Power will be coming to an end. War Like Goddess is 6 and Casa Creed is 7.

“I get a little more attached to them than I should,” she said. “If War Like Goddess retires, I will be a little sad. All the horses I have swung a leg over – like Casa Creed and Elite Power – some will be retired. Sad, but so thankful that I have been around them. The whole string we have here is pretty incredible.”


FANDUEL BREEDERS’ CUP MILE  

Horse: Casa Creed

Trainer: Bill Mott

Morning Activity: Worked 4f in company with stablemate Elite Power in 46 2/5 with exercise rider Brittany Troxtell in the saddle.

Planned Activity: Scheduled to walk the shedrow.

The Quote: “We think he is a pretty good horse. In these turf races, it’s all about the trip and the pace and position. You have to have the golden trip and you’ve got to get lucky. Everyone in there is a nice horse; probably half the horses in it could win it.” – Bill Mott

Horse: Mawj (IRE)
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Set: None
Morning Activity: Walked the shed row, one day after breezing 7f in 1:28.40 in company with Breeders’ Cup undercard-bound White Moonlight
Planned Activity: Will return to the track on Monday for routine training

Closer Look: Saeed bin Suroor is back at the big show and there is no doubt that he has every chance to add a fourth Breeders’ Cup trophy to his mantle when he saddles Godolphin’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1)-bound homebred Mawj on Saturday. The daughter of Exceed And Excel (AUS) will not only seek to become her standout sire’s third Breeders’ Cup winner, but also hopes to emulate dual-Breeders’ Cup-winning half-brother Modern Games (IRE), who landed last year’s Mile. On Saturday, she put the finishing touches on her preparation with worked 7f in 1:28 2/5 in company with Group 2-placed stablemate White Moonlight. 

            “It was a good work,” bin Suroor said. “On the dirt, she’s not going to show a lot, really, but she did a nice routine work of seven furlongs, which is what we do with her before a race and now will have an easy time going into the Breeders’ Cup Mile. She worked with White Moonlight, who runs on Friday in a Listed race here. Mawj is far better on the turf, but she’s doing well and it was a nice work for her and we’ll go from there. I’m hoping to draw somewhere in the middle with her. She will show speed and go to the front.” 

            A six-time winner from nine starts, Mawj served notice that she had a bright future when a good second to subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Meditate (IRE) in Royal Ascot’s Albany Stakes (G3) last year. She then went on to capture the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes (G2) at the July Meeting and maintain proper Group 1 form by year’s end. In 2023, she has upped her game, going 4-for-4, including victories in the prestigious 1000 Guineas (G1) and Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) last out at Keeneland on Oct. 14. Exiting a nine-furlong victory, she had the option of cutting back to the Mile against the boys or stepping up another furlong for the Filly & Mare Turf against her own sex. 

            “She’s going into the Mile because I think that’s her best distance,” bin Suroor explained. “I know she won at Keeneland over nine furlongs, but she has a lot of speed and that makes me think the mile is her trip and a lot better than a mile and a quarter for her. She will improve from the race and she hadn’t run since May and needed the race, for sure. It was very good for her to win when she needed the run, but she’s a tough filly with a big heart who always tries hard. She’s doing good and she travelled really well from Kentucky to here. She’s been enjoying her exercise and I’m really happy with her. If she’s happy, that makes me happy.

            Bin Suroor has earned Breeders’ Cup wins with two favorites, Daylami (1999) and Fantastic Light (2001) in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), but the last time he attended the World Championships at Santa Anita, he saddled a then-record 14 starters and took home a trophy with the least-expected of the lot, 30-1 longshot Vale of York (IRE) in the Juvenile. Smiling ear-to-ear while walking around Clocker’s Corner, it is easy to understand why he appears to have shipped as well as his filly. 

            “I actually won my first Group 1 here at Santa Anita in 1995 with Red Bishop in the San Juan Capistrano, so it’s always good to be back,” he concluded. “And I have won a Breeders’ Cup here, which makes it even better.” 

Horse: Master of the Seas (IRE) 
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Morning Activity: Went out for a routine canter, which turned into an accidental breeze that was unofficially timed in 49 2/5. 
Planned Activity: Walk day Monday

The Quote: “Unfortunately that wasn’t the plan. All we wanted to do with him was go out for a steady canter, but he didn’t have his hood on and unfortunately he took off with his rider. It was not quite what we hoped for or what was planned. We will now have to adjust his schedule accordingly with a quiet day tomorrow and he will definitely have the hood on him next time he’s out on Tuesday morning.” – Chris Connett, assistant trainer 

MAKER’S MARK BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE TURF

Horse: Didia (ARG)
Trainer: Ignacio Correas IV

Morning Activity: Galloped an easy circuit of the Santa Anita main track
Planned Activity: Will have a similar gallop Monday

Closer Look: Dual Grade 1-winning mare Didia continues to impress as she prepares to tackle one of the saltiest fields in the history of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Owned by Merriebelle Stable and trained by Ignacio Correas IV — the same connections of 2019 upset Breeders’ Cup Distaff victress and fellow Argentine-bred Blue Prize (ARG)— Didia seeks an upset of her own against a lineup that features no fewer than seven G1 winners.

            In four 2023 starts, the granddaughter of dual Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Lure has won three times, including a dominant performance last out in the course-and-distance Rodeo Drive (G2), dismissing Del Mar Oaks (G1) winner Anisette to win by a widening 1 3/4 lengths. Her lone blemish this season came in the New York Stakes (G1) at Belmont, where she finished second by three-quarters of a length, splitting Chad Brown-trained runners Marketsegmentation and McKulick (GB). The latter reopposes in the Filly & Mare Turf. 

            “Her campaign has been almost perfect,” Correas said. “She lost the New York, but it was a difficult race to plan. You have four Chad Browns in there — three Grade 1 winners, one Grade 1-placed and two of his go for the lead and two stay behind you. You don’t know which to go with and on top of that you have to worry about War Like Goddess coming from off the pace. We decided to do what she does all the time and if it panned out, great, and if it didn’t pan out, that’s OK. But she ran a good race.

            “We had planned to run her in the Beverly D. after the New York, but she hit her head and had some stiches and needed the time. I made an alternative plan and focused on California. She came here and ran and was super-good that day. She had to do and now we are here and she is doing very well.” 

            A wicked acceleration has been Didia’s calling card thus far in her career, one that started with seven starts in South America. Thus far, she has won nine of 13 starts with a variety of running styles and finished second twice. 

            “The only thing that I don’t want is for her to be up on the pace,” Correas said. “In Argentina, where she won two Grade 1s, she used to be on the lead, but here I don’t want to see that. She can stalk the pace or come from farther back off the pace and I think her strength is her final quarter-mile kick. She can fly. I understand that this is a much different bunch of horses and the toughest race of her career, but she’s coming into the race in good shape.” 

            Didia finished up her serious work last Thursday with a 5f breeze in 1:01 4/5. 

            “I wanted an easy work,” Correas concluded. “She’s ready and just needed maintenance. Smooch her the last eighth and that’s what she did and galloped out well. For me, it was what I was looking for — wrong or right, that’s what I wanted.” 

BIG ASS FANS BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE  

Horse: Cody’s Wish

Trainer: Bill Mott

Morning Activity: Worked 4f in 47 ⅕ with assistant trainer Neil Poznansky in the saddle.

Planned Activity: Scheduled to walk the shedrow TBA.

The Quote: “He looked smooth as glass. I was happy that he didn’t go faster. Neil had him just right. Cody’s Wish did it on the bridle. Passing the eighth pole, (Poznansky) released his hold and took his hand off the bridle a little bit and he finished up good and galloped out good.” – Bill Mott

Horse: National Treasure

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Morning Activity: Worked 4f in :47 1/5.

Planned Activity: Will walk at the barn on Monday, then return to the track on Tuesday

The Quote: “He looked good out there. I had him galloping out 5f in :59 and change. That last race seemed to wake him back up.” – Bob Baffert

QATAR RACING BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT

Horse: Dr. Schivel

Trainer: Mark Glatt

Morning Activity: Recorded his final work of 1:00 4/5 for 5f under jockey Juan Hernandez in advance of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint

Planned Activity: Will walk on Monday, then return to the track Tuesday to gallop up to the race.

The Quote: “He looked good today.  This work was sharper than his last one.” – Mark Glatt

Horse: Elite Power

Trainer: Bill Mott

Morning Activity: Defending Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) champion worked 4f in company with stablemate Casa Creed in 46 1/5 under assistant trainer Neil Poznansky.

Planned Activity: Will walk the shedrow on Monday morning; may go to the track.

The Quote: “I don’t have any lack of confidence in him. Look, it’s a horse race and he has to go over there and do it and have a good trip. I have no reason to believe he is not as good as he was last year.” – Bill Mott

Closer Look: When it comes to the $2 million Qatar Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), Elite Power has been there, done that.

Now, his connections hope the 5-year-old son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin can do it again. 

Juddmonte’s Elite Power rolls into Santa Anita Park as the horse to beat in the 6-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday. Last November, he won the Sprint by 1 1/4 lengths to complete a season in which he won five of six starts and be awarded the Eclipse Award for champion sprinter.

This year’s Sprint will be Elite Power’s first start since he had an eight-race winning streak snapped when he was second in the Aug. 26 Forego Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course.

Before the loss, Elite Power had gobbled up the wins, starting when he broke his maiden in the fourth try at Churchill Downs in June of his 3-year-old season. It stopped when Gunite – a horse Elite Power had defeated by a head in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) earlier in the Saratoga meet – won the Forego by 1 3/4 lengths.

The Forego was run at 7 furlongs; the Vanderbilt at 6 furlongs. Elite Power had won four of six starts at the Sprint distance.

Bill Mott, Elite Power’s Hall of Fame trainer accepts the notion that Elite Power likely will be the favorite as he tries to defend his title. Mott though, has not picked out a spot on his mantel for the trophy just yet.

“Horses show up in the Breeders’ Cup that you didn’t know existed,” Mott said. “You look up and you’ll say, ‘Holy (cow), where did they come from?’ There are races you are in where it looks like you are the best horse on paper and you think you ought to win. These races are so tough that you are no cinch to win no matter who you are.”

Elite Power will make his bid to become the third horse to win the Sprint in back-to-back years, joining Roy H (2017-18) and Midnight Lute (2007-08). The race has not been kind to its post time favorites.

In the last 30 years, just seven favorites have won it. Last year, Elite Power was sent off as the 5-1 second choice at Keeneland.

Mott, though, is happy with how Elite Power has trained since the Forego. He will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. 

Just getting a horse to the Breeders’ Cup can be viewed as a win after connections navigate a path to get there.

            “Really, there is probably not as much pressure in the Breeders’ Cup as there is in a lot of other races,” Mott said. “All these races are so difficult, you are just lucky to show up. We have been beaten in Breeders’ Cup races before and, sometimes, because you know the races are so competitive going in, you are not as disappointed if you get beat. It is absolutely a win to get there. You have to have a great season to get there.”

Horse: Gunite

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Morning Activity: Worked 3f in 36 1/5 at Santa Anita

Planned Activity: Will walk Monday

Horse: The Chosen Vron 

Trainer: J. Eric Kruljak

Set: None

Morning Activity: Walked at the barn after 4f workout Saturday, which the trainer caught in :47 4/5 on the training track

Planned Activity: Will walk again Monday before returning to the track.

Closer Look: Trainer Eric Kruljac once got some sage advice from his grandfather, a rancher who sparkled his young grandson’s interest in horses: To be successful, keep yourself in the best of company, and keep your horses in the worst of company. That was the mantra by which Walter Markham lived. 

And, while perhaps that advice may have been part of Kruljac’s star The Chosen Vron’s racing success, when he ripped through the state-bred competition en route to seven consecutive stakes victories, it appears that his grandson is defying the second half of that equation in quest of a win in Saturday’s Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) against the best and fastest horses around.

            The Chosen Vron will be attempting to become only the third California-bred horse to win the 6-furlong dash. And, if he emerges victorious, he would be only the sixth Cal-bred overall in 40 years to do so. So, it would seem that the odds are stacked against the son of Vronsky.

But during his 17-race career, the odds actually have favored the chestnut gelding. He owns 13 career victories and only has finished worse than third once. He has been favored in 11 of those outings, nine of them at even money odds or less. And despite being an offspring of the mating between a $40,000 broodmare and a stallion who stands for a modest $3,500, The Chosen Vron has banked more than $1 million.

“I’ve been around horses for more than 30 years, initially as a breeder and now as a trainer,” Kruljac said, “and I can tell when a horse is going to be something special. This is one of them.”

Kruljac always has run a relatively small stable, but he enjoys the hands-on nature of it. Yet that hasn’t prevented him from scaling the heights to tackle bigger races or tougher competitors. He saddled Leave Me Alone for a (then) record 8 1/2-length win in Saratoga’s Test Stakes (G1). Later, he bought a horse, Finest City, for his son, trainer Ian, then his assistant at the bran, which won in his first Breeders’ Cup start.

 While these successes may have been few, the quality has resonated with Eric. As both co-breeder and co-owner of The Chosen Veon, he has enjoyed the fruits of his success each and every step of the way, starting with a runaway 6 3/4-length win in his career debut. And that was the last start this gem of consistency made in any race that wasn’t a stakes or handicap — a string of 16 consecutive.

The Chosen Vron has displayed amazing versatility, too, winning at distances short and long, and over surfaces of dirt and turf. Asked which the horse preferred, Kruljac demurred, “He probably likes the dirt most.” Asked to describe the horse, the conditioner added, “He’s a cool horse just to be around. He’s playful around the barn, where he’ll lick you, but not bite you. But, he’s very competitive on the track, as evidenced by his impressive record.”

Kruljac stated, “He was always a very nice horse, but he got really good when we returned him to the races after a minor surgery in 2021. He began training like a monster.”

For all the gelding’s success, Kruljac was especially animated in discussing the horse’s most recent win in Del Mar’s Bing Crosby Handicap (G1), which offered an all-expenses paid berth for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint to the victor. “That was the most exciting race I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “I was not so surprised that he was capable of winning, rather more that he did win it. The rider had to take him up severely just as he was beginning to make his move, then he had to practically re-break in the middle of the final turn. It was impressive that he was able to overcome it, then tough out a hard-fought three-way photo finish for the head victory over two really good stakes winners (Anarchist and Dr. Schivel). The winning time was the fastest six furlongs of the summer Del Mar meeting.

“His regular rider, Hector Barrios, is part of the success equation as well,” Kruljac added. “He gets along with him well and regularly works the horse in the mornings.”. Barrios has been aboard for their past eight stakes stake engagements — all triumphant.

“This will be a tough, but exciting race,” the trainer said. “There looks to be lots of speed, so we should be able to make one run into an honest pace.”

For all the sage advice and all the odds that face The Chosen Vron, one fact is undeniable: the gelding has never lost a race at 6 furlongs, the distance of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

PNC BANK BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT 

Horse: Eda

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Morning Activity: Worked 4f from the gate in :47 2/5.

Planned Activity: Will walk tomorrow morning, then return to the track Tuesday.

The Quote: “We popped her out of the gate this morning.  It was just what she needed.” – Bob Baffert

Horse: Society

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Morning Activity: Worked 3f in 37 2/5 at Santa Anita

Planned Activity: Will walk Monday

BREEDERS’ CUP TURF SPRINT  

Horse: Live In The Dream (IRE)  

Trainer: Adam West  

Morning Activity: Galloped over main Santa Anita track  

Planned Activity: Will have similar activity Monday with a work planned for Tuesday.  

FANDUEL BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE  

Horse: Prince of Monaco

Trainer:  Bob Baffert

Morning Activity: Worked 5f in company with stablemate Pilot Commander in 1:00 1/5.

Planned Activity: Will walk at the barn on Monday.

Quote: “I didn’t want anything fast today. He galloped out well.”—Bob Baffert

BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES TURF  

Horse: Laulne (pronounced “law-nay”)

Trainer:  Phil D’Amato

Morning Activity: Walked at the barn this morning following Saturday’s 4f work in :49 on the training track.

Planned Activity: Returns to the track to jog Monday.

The Quote: “We’ve only had her for nine days, but she was in full training when she was shipped over from France.  She was purchased at the Arc Sale (reported price was $793,000). She’s very consistent and has never been off the board in six lifetime starts.”—trainer Phil D’Amato

Horse: Porta Fortuna (IRE)

Trainer: Donnacha O’Brien

Morning Activity: Remained in quarantine barn after arriving at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. 

Planned Activity: Expected to clear quarantine Monday night and train Tuesday.

The Quote: “It’s great to be back at the Breeders’ Cup and I’m delighted to be here. The team is happy with how the horses traveled so we’ll see how they are this evening. As with the rest of the horses which arrived yesterday, we won’t be out on the track until Tuesday, so we’ll hand walk them until clearance. Porta Fortuna has had a great season in the UK and Ireland and looks the right sort of horse for this race. I’m really looking forward to the week ahead.” – Donnacha O’Brien

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